Police are asking retailers to be aware of criminals who use distraction and deception techniques to commit theft and fraud following reports of such activity in the North East.
The Crime Reduction Unit has been engaging with businesses across the north-east to offer advice on how to safeguard different aspects of their operations over the busy festive period.
Constable Kev Marron of Police Scotland's Crime Reduction Unit said: "When notes are tendered, recovered and then re-tendered it can be a deliberate ploy to pay a lesser amount for goods and takes advantage of retail staff being extremely busy and perhaps not wishing to delay a transaction with other persons queuing by counting notes accurately or for a second time.
"We advise all retail staff to be on guard when any transaction involves a customer taking back any amount of money tendered. Often this technique is accompanied by the person engaging the staff member in conversation in order to take their mind off counting the money or to distract them from what a second person may be doing in the store, especially if that person is standing near attractive or high value goods or near a Staff Only area."
In one recent example two men entered a shop in Stonehaven and one of them asked the sales assistant for two high value bottles of alcohol. He then appeared to change his mind and asked for a different high value bottle of alcohol instead. He then made various attempts to distract the sales assistant while the second man tried to steal items from behind the sales counter. The sales assistant on this occasion was alert and acted appropriately to avoid any loss.
The incident happened on Thursday, December 8, and the first man is described as being 40 to 50 years of age, 5' 8" tall, with dark hair, of medium build and with Middle Eastern appearance and accent, with a gold front tooth. The second man was younger than the first, about 5'8" tall, of slim build and with Middle Eastern appearance and accent.
If anyone has any information regarding this incident or the identity of those involved they should telephone Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if they wish to remain anonymous. If any businesses wish to receive crime prevention guidance they should dial 101 and ask to speak with their local Crime Reduction Officer.